Jack Aitken recorded his first double top 10 finish of the season to collect more valuable points in the third Sprint Cup round of the GT World Challenge Europe season at Misano last weekend.
The British-Korean driver came into the weekend off the back of his strongest Sprint Cup weekend to date at Zandvoort, narrowly missing out on a podium in the second race in the Netherlands. Amid exceedingly hot conditions at Misano, things initially didn’t seem to be going so well during Thursday’s official test and Friday’s free practice and pre-qualifying sessions.
The Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo struggled for pace on the opening day’s action due to a combination of the Balance of Performance and the nature of the Misano circuit. Qualifying itself on Saturday morning appeared to be a continuation of the previous day’s form, with Jack’s team-mate Konsta Lappalainen only managing 21st on the grid.
In the first race, however, the car came alive and a strong start from Lappalainen left the #114 in 16th place after just two laps, before the first of two full course yellow interventions bunched the pack up again.
Jack took over from Lappalainen after 30 minutes with the car re-joining the race on the cusp of the top 10, heading into the final half of the race. Another full course yellow was deployed for an accident, which left Jack with more of the Pirelli tyres to use for the remaining 22 minutes.
He put them to excellent use by setting the fastest lap of the race and jumping past the sister Emil Frey Racing Lamborghinis of Norbert Siedler and Ricardo Feller to finish an excellent seventh at the finish, gaining 14 places from his starting position.
Jack was then in the car for Sunday’s second qualifying session, and he once more demonstrated his blistering pace by putting the #114 fourth on the grid for the race. Unbelievably, he missed out on pole position by just five-hundredths of a second.
As the race started, Jack maintained his position after attempting to drive around the outside of the double race-winning Audi of Charles Weerts at Turn 1. Having battled the current Sprint Cup points leaders during the opening stint, Jack then handed over to Lappalainen at the pit-stops, with his Finnish co-driver continuing the strong pace to finish a well-deserved fifth by the end.
Next up for Jack will be the biggest endurance event dedicated for GT3 cars, the Spa 24 Hours which will take place on 30th July.
JACK ON… THE MISANO WEEKEND
“It was a really good weekend, and I’m very happy with our performance. In the first race I set fastest lap, and we had back to back points finishes, ending up as the top Emil Frey Lamborghini home on each occasion – which was a good achievement, as Konsta had some bad luck with a puncture in qualifying, which ultimately meant that he had to start at the back of the grid. He’d already made up a lot of places by the time I took over, and then I was able to make up a few more: so it felt really good. The car was brilliant: big thanks to the team for all their efforts.”
JACK ON… THE CLOSE COMPETITION IN GT RACING
“I qualified for the second race and I was just 0.053s off pole position, which put us fourth on the grid. I think that just goes to show how close and competitive the championship is: the Misano lap is about a minute and a half, over a proper circuit, so to have the cars separated by such a tiny margin is astonishing. Obviously, the balance of performance comes into it too, which has affected us a bit, but we’re still right up there, even though the race set up wasn’t quite there for the second race.”
JACK ON… COMING HOME
“I headed home on Monday after the race and then straight to the Williams simulator to help the team prepare for the British Grand Prix. It’s obviously a home race, but there’s not going to be a huge amount of time to enjoy it, because after that it’s straight off to Spa for me for the 24 Hours, which I’m massively looking forward to.”
Source. Jack Aitken